SEVEN years ago Paul Bill wasn’t sure if he’d even survive, after being told he needed a life-saving heart transplant.
But a story he heard while waiting for surgery inspired him and he recently won a gold medal at the World Transplant Games.
The Solihull News spoke to the keen tennis player about his remarkable journey from the wards to the winner’s podium.
“I remember one of the nurses at the hospital told me about a transplant patient, who’d won gold in the swimming,” said the 26-year-old.
“At the time you’re wondering if you’re even going to be around the next week, so that was a massive boost for me.
“And if my experience can be of comfort to people who are going through the same thing now then that’s great.”
Paul, who was brought up in Dorridge and Monkspath, was just five years old when he first picked up a tennis racquet.
But as a teenager he was diagnosed with the heart defect, dilated cardiomyopathy, and later told he needed surgery.
“After I had my transplant it was a struggle to get out of bed, though I was desperate to get back out on the court,’’ he said.
“I suppose I was a bit too enthusiastic, I was 19 and wanted to play – I started to play again about a fortnight later.”
A regular at Blossomfield Tennis Club, the former Arden School pupil says he’s fitter now than before his operation. At the last Transplant Games, held in Australia two years ago, he took home five medals in tennis, squash and table tennis.
And in the most recent event, in Sweden, he won the tennis doubles – partnered with Matt Lynch.
Paul, who now lives in Hall Green, received funding from Heart Research UK, which allowed him to compete.